Searchlight spots Lonergan pic

Pollack, Minghella to produce

Kenneth Lonergan, the writer-director of “You Can Count on Me,” is in negotiations to bring his newest project — a coming-of-age drama titled “Margaret” — to Fox Searchlight.

Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella are producing with the Par-based Scott Rudin, and the pic has a preliminary budget estimated to be at least $15 million. Pollack said the producers might seek additional financial partners on the pic, skedded to shoot in costly Gotham. Those financial partners, would need to be “non-competitive” with Searchlight, he added.

Story centers on a 17-year-old girl who witnesses a bus accident, and what seems like a simple issue of whether it was or was not accidental slowly spreads out to affect many people.

“It’s coming of age intellectually, in terms of understanding, that one looks at the world differently as an adult than one does as a child.” Pollack told Daily Variety. “One learns that life is infinitely more complex than you want it to be or than you assume it is.”

Despite the breakout success of “Count on Me,” Lonergan started out, and remains, a playwright; his first play, 1996’s “This Is Our Youth” had a successful revival in London’s West End last year with thesps Anna Paquin, Hayden Christensen and Jake Gyllenhaal treading the boards at the Garrick; legiter just preemed in Toronto, with Woody Harrelson helming.

His latest play, “Lobby Hero” played Off Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in March 2001.

Lonergan’s other screenwriting credits include Miramax’s “Gangs of New York,” Warner Bros. laffer “Analyze This” and U’s CGI comedy, “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.”

Lonergan is repped by CAA.

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